6 Feminist Books to Read Right Now
By Melissa Lipari
Educating ourselves about feminism is one of the most important acts of being a feminist. Learning from others’ teachings, struggles, and experiences creates a platform for us to become more knowledgeable while simultaneously empowering each other. In this article, I will delve into six feminist books that we should all be reading – whether you are a budding feminist or have been practicing for years.
- Bad Feminist – Roxanne Gay
Roxanne Gay is a renowned feminist educator. In Bad Feminist, Gay discusses all the ways in which she is considered a “bad” feminist, even though the term does not exist. Gay explains that you can enjoy rap music and other categories of pleasure that are typically anti-feminist and still be considered a person who supports womxn. This book does not shame you for being messy and imperfect; it celebrates all of the imperfections of the feminist community, perfect for those who are new to this theory or lifestyle.
Favorite Quote: “I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying—trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.”
- We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a critically acclaimed Nigerian writer who has works that range from short stories to novels — even some non-fiction. We Should All Be Feminists is a long-form essay that discusses what feminism means in the 21st century. The essay was originally adapted from a TED talk that Adichie presented back in 2012 – which has since been viewed almost five million times. Fun Fact: the essay was transcribed into Beyonce’s album Lemonade in 2016. This is a fantastic book to better understand feminism in modern times.
Favorite Quote: “The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”
- A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
A Room of One’s Own was written by historical feminist activist Virginia Woolf in 1929. This extended essay was based on two lectures given by Woolf and is considered an important feminist text because of its argument for women’s need of space. Woolf heavily influenced the literary industry during her time, which was traditionally dominated by men, calling for more action to be made towards female writers being published. If you’re looking for a good starting point towards women’s/feminist history — look no further.
Favorite Quote: “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
- Living a Feminist Life – Sara Ahmed
Sara Ahmed explains the theory of feminism in Living a Feminist Life, while also finding comparisons between the theory and everyday life. She recounts many of her own personal exposures in her book, which can be very therapeutic, while also encouraging others to do the “work” that is necessary to connect the theory of feminism to human experience. Pro Tip: This is a great book to start with if you are more interested in feminist theory but are unsure how to aproach it. I read this book in my women’s studies course and it was truly life changing.
Favorite Quote: “To live a feminist life is to make everything into something that is questionable. The question of how to live a feminist life is alive as a question as well as being a life question.”
- The Second Sex – Simone de Beauvoir
French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir wrote The Second Sex in 1949 to document the treatment of women throughout history up to that point. This book is considered one of the most important texts in feminist philosophy and for the practice of second-wave feminism. The Second Sex questions what a woman is and the relationship between species and gender. It’s a great book to read if philosophical texts are more your jam — especially pertaining to gender theory.
Favorite Quote: “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”
- Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies) – Scarlett Curtis
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink is a collection of essays from celebrities and activists that documents the trials and tribulations of feminism and being a woman. It also debunks falsehoods that might be associated with the term “feminist” and illustrates what feminism means from different walks of life. It is a book that bridges the world of social media and online activism to real life experiences in the feminist community. This is a bit more of a lighthearted read, but it is just as effective as any other.
Favorite Quote: “A feminist who only fights for the lives of women like herself isn't fighting for everyone, so I'm going to keep going at this feminist thing until all women have the same access to human rights.”
I hope this list provides some guidance on where to begin if you are interested in reading about feminism. While the list of important feminist texts extends far past this, I leave you with some of my personal favorites that have aided in my feminist growth. Happy reading!
Here is a link to 32 books about feminism written by female authors if you would like any more recommendations.